NFF welcomes staged introduction of environmental reforms

Sheep Central, April 17, 2024

Federal Environment minister Tanya Plibersek signing the Nature Repair Bill. Source: Tanya Plibersek Twitter

FEDERAL environment minister Tanya Plibersek yesterday announced the second stage of the government’s Nature Positive Plan, pledging to streamline the process for new renewable energy projects and announcing a new national Environmental Protection Agency.

The minister says the changes will deliver stronger environment powers, faster environment approvals, and more environment information and transparency.

Key updates are:

  • Australia’s first national independent Environment Protection Agency with strong new powers and penalties.
  • More accountability and transparency with a new body called Environment Information Australia which will give businesses easier access to the latest environmental data, release State of the Environment reports every two years, and report on progress on national environmental goals.
  • Faster environmental approval decisions on projects, with a $100 million investment, including on renewables and critical minerals

Ms Plibersak said the plan was about protecting native plants and animals.

“We’re delivering stronger protections for the environment, including Australia’s first ever independent national Environment Protection Agenc,” she said.

“We’re also working to support faster, clearer decisions for business. That greater certainty for business will help drive investment in nation-building projects.

“When I first announced the Nature Positive Plan, I said it would take a bit of cooperation, compromise and common sense to deliver. That’s exactly how we’re approaching the rollout.”

NFF welcomes staged reform

National Farmers’ Federation president David Jochinke said the organisation will reserve judgement on the reforms until more details are released. He said the organisation welcomed the staged nature of the reforms.

“Our members have said for years that the current Act is broken. It’s hard to engage with producers who want to do the right thing, and in some instances it’s preventing best practice management of the landscape,” Mr Jochinke said.

“Unpicking this tangled mess of overlapping state and federal rules and making it work better for everyone takes time, so we’re pleased to see the Minister deciding not to rush this through.”

Mr Jochinke the organisation was calling for  effective partnership with Federal regulators.

“What we don’t want to see is these new Federal bodies charging off into the bush waving a big stick,” he said.

“The consistent message from farmers to the government in this process is that they don’t understand the complex Federal system, and how it works alongside various state environment laws.

“What we need to see – including from these new bodies – is a much more positive and proactive engagement with farmers, aimed at helping them comply rather than catching them out.

“As custodians of over half Australia’s landmass, if this new system doesn’t recognise the good work farmers are doing in terms of managing the landscape while also producing food and fibre for the community then it just doesn’t work.

“It needs to recognise that agriculture is an existing land-use and the intersection with matters of national environmental significance is complex and dynamic, the law needs to be viewed through this lens.

“We look forward to working constructively with Minister Plibersek and her Department to ensure that we reach a positive outcome for farmers and the environment.”

Source: Tanya Plibersek/NFF


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